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Beat the Clock: Sorting Networks

Source Institutions

    National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT)

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Beat the Clock: Sorting Networks

Even fast computers are limited to how quickly they can solve problems. One way to speed things up is to use several computers at once. In this physical activity, learners act as multiple networked computers working to sort items. Because multiple sorting events happen simultaneously, a large array can be sorted quickly. It includes one main activity with several variations and extensions, including a suggestion to have multiple teams compete for the fastest time to complete the task. Background information is also included.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan



  • Engineering and Technology
    • Technology
      • Information and Communication
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
    • Problem Solving

Informal Categories

  • Computers


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • be mobile

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Source:

  • Google, Inc.


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